The Unspoken Benefits of Tutoring

by NYC Firm Schools Blog AdConnect on October 25, 2012

This post is from the NYC Firm Schools Blog AdConnect Platform.


This post was written by Brooke Nielsen, Director of Tutoring & Mentoring, Fusion Academy Solana Beach.

When parents approach a tutoring company for support it’s because their child needs “help in biology,” “struggles with test taking” or “needs to learn organizational skills.” Rarely do we hear, “I’d like my son to get tutoring support to increase his self-esteem and lower our household stress.” Yet so often, this is the case. Behind many desires for a mastery of AP English or Spanish III is the unspoken “I’ve tried everything I can to help this kid, and I’m at a loss, and I’m tired. On top all that, this has turned into a power-struggle and strain on our family.” Whether consciously acknowledged or not, when parents seek tutoring support, they are often looking for more than a higher grade for their child. They are looking for a way to raise their child’s confidence, lower family tension, and feel a sense of support.

The confidence factor
Not many issues affect a child’s confidence more than school. When a student cannot understand what she is learning or perform the way that she desires, rarely does she say, “my class size is too big for me to get the individualized attention I need” or “I’m not the only person who struggles with this; I can do it if I ask for help.” Instead, the child often internalizes the message: “something is wrong with me.

There are few things worse for a parent than to see their child feeling discouraged and dejected. Many times, we ourselves had painful struggles in school that remind us of how excruciating this can be. While there are a number of ways that parents can have conversations with their children to address the negative beliefs they hold about themselves, sometimes the best support comes in the form of action. While we can be told a thousand times that we are indeed “smart and capable,” it is when someone actually shows us that we are smart that we believe it.

The tutor steps in to meet this need when he greets the student with respect, kindness, and an unspoken “we’ll do this together. I’m here for you.” Over time, the relationship that is formed and the feeling of competence that is gained creates a sense of empowerment that translates to other subjects and other areas of life. A tutor’s patient and effective guidance can be just what a child needs to go from insecure and depressed to secure and persevering.

Lower family tension
As mentioned above, parents’ heart-strings are tugged upon when their children struggle. The anxiety this causes within the family is often greater than realized. One might say, “Dad was an English major. Why can’t he help Kelly write her paper?” As you may already know, the issue usually isn’t Mom or Dad’s academic competence but rather the fact that it’s Momand Dad. As the Director of Tutoring and Mentoring of Fusion Academy & Learning Center in San Diego, more than 90 percent of the parents I speak to report tension and fights when trying to help their children with their school work.

While there are a number of hypotheses to describe this phenomenon, I’ll explain the most common scenario I see. Usually, difficulty with a subject creates stress in a student. Because parents care so much about their kids, they often react to their children’s stress with stress of their own. As much as we might like to think that under stress we would become more accepting, empathetic, and helpful, often this stress shows up as nagging, unwanted advice, or a tense attempt at helping. You can probably predict the end of this story: either parent or child becomes frustrated, tension increases, and soon, everyone in the family feels stress in the air. To make matters worse, this may become an everyday occurrence, to the point that both parent and child associate school and homework with family tension!

Private tutoring works because it allows the parent to step out of the feedback loop of frustration, anxiety, and tension. While the student may still feel stress, the tutor has years of experience in remaining calm in this scenario. As the tutor patiently teaches the material in a way that the student can learn it, the child’s anxiety will lower, and he may even adopt the even-keeled approach of his tutor. A new emotional experience around school is formed. Meanwhile, Mom is enjoying an afternoon devoid of the normal negotiating and arguing, and when parent and child reunite post-tutoring, both are in a much better place from which to interact. By disengaging herself from her child’s anxiety yet providing him with the support he needs, their relationship gets to be one free from the tension of school struggles.

Extra parental support
While schools are meant to fill the need for stimulating and nourishing young minds, so often it is the parent who ends up feeling the burden of their child’s education. If their son or daughter is doing well, sailing through his/her classes, getting all A’s, and thriving in the classroom, then this is no cross to bear. So often, however, this is not the case, and the parents end up feeling like they are somehow falling short or letting their child down.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Parents do not have to be the only ones carrying the torch of their child’s education. During those few hours a week, a caring, competent professional steps in and says, “Let me take this concern from you for a little while. You deserve a break.” We can’t be champions of all our children’s challenges without ending up exhausted and cranky. It is a gift to everyone in the family when we get the support we need, and it allows for a stronger family with more reserves and energy.

So why do families seek out tutors for their children? To raise grades? Increase their GPA? Help write a better college application essay? Those may be some of the reasons, but parents also seek out tutors to increase their child’s self-esteem, lower tension at home, and feel an extra sense of support. Are these desired effects usually achieved? In my experience at Fusion Academy & Learning Center, yes they are. The act of driving one’s child to tutoring changes from a chore to an exercise in support of the whole family.

Fusion Academy is now open in Woodbury, Long Island and Midtown Manhattan, and will launch a Westchester location in the winter of 2013. For more information go to: www.fusionacademy.com.

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